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Thursday, February 7, 2013

What would Sarah do?

Investigating the Lambertville canal drownings

She was the valedictorian of her 1991 graduating class at South Hunterdon High, and a superb athlete who especially loved and excelled at volleyball.

A bright, strong-willed, independent female even at that tender age, Sarah Majoras is said to have declined to give a speech at her high school graduation, remaining silent instead in order to civically object to a religious invocation delivered at the opening of the ceremony by a school administrator. 
That forced prayer was in plain violation of black-letter laws that call for separation of church and state throughout the USA, including at publicly-funded school systems like South Hunterdon. It was, in young Majoras' uncorrupted view, a patently unconstitutional demand which she had the inalienable right to refuse. 
Being required to mumble along to a benediction, to bow one's head to "God" and country, infringed on everybody's rights who were assembled there that day, believers and nonbelievers alike. So she was leading the crowd in protest of it.
That's after all what Sarah Majoras was, all those who knew her agree: a natural born leader.
"Only the good die young"
Sometimes as we age, as we ardently pursue a host of other liberty interests--happiness, wealth, social status, acclaim--we lose ourselves in the chase. The principles and ideals we believed in and espoused in our youth become too cumbersome to maintain, and so we toss them, one by one, along the way. 
And sometimes, when we finally near or reach our goals, we end up completely different people than we used to be. Not always for the better.
But at age 39 Sarah Majoras was still the courageous and  "extremely smart person" her friends and admirers had always known her to be. She was still the all around, dependable team player who had, in the years since silently receiving her diploma, also earned a reputation as a kind, generous, "very accepting and inclusive" human being.
Majoras had not sold her soul for the almighty dollar, although it's clear she certainly could have if she liked. She was not chasing after the American Dream and untold fortunes bartending for 16 years at Lambertville's local hotspot, John & Peter's, situated just across the Delaware river and roughly only a mile from her house.
She had become a beloved fixture of the bar-and-grill, and its patrons adored her.

But this January, walking home in the early morning hours from there, Sarah Majoras mysteriously vanished, and nearly the whole town began searching for her. Days later she was found just a few blocks shy of her destination, drowned in the shallows of an icy canal.
Misstep or murder?
The loss of an individual like Sarah Majoras is not just felt at the tiny pub she graciously tended for nearly two decades, nor is it limited to the the small village she lived in almost all her adult life.
Noble characters willing to stand up for what they believe are rare in this world we've created, and whether dead or alive their decency and humanity serves to inspire others to behave nobly as well.
You can't have too many of such types; you can't bear to lose even just one of them.
In many ways now the world we know has grown suddenly small over the past 15 to 20 years, and word travels fast as a consequence. We can thank satellites and cell phone technology for our shrinking universe, and, of course, the internet.
In the bars and alleyways and kitchens of Lambertville New Jersey, and thousands of miles away via chatrooms, blogs, and discussion forums, there is a rumor circulating that Sarah Majoras didn't fall into the water by accident.
All over the planet people are saying Majoras was murdered, and they want the police to investigate her suspicious death. They think that her friend David Anderson's 2000 drowning in the same area of the canal--coming from the same bar where both were employed, walking the same route, to the same place, to see the same person, at the same hour--defies coincidence.
And yet a small but very vocal minority are saying nay to this, opening troll accounts on busy web boards where the case is being actively debated and interjecting that such discussions "are not helpful." 

It is their mission, as they see it, to derail any and all conversations concerning the possibility of foul play in the Majoras disappearance and drowning. 

None of them leave their names, of course, or even say what sex they are, but they do identify themselves as belonging to the tight-knit group of friends that included Majoras, Anderson, and the man these two decedents were both going home to when they each went missing and then died.
They are grieving for their dead friend, the trolls claim, and any inquest into that death will only drive their pain deeper and divide the community in the process. Moreover, they've known the man that everybody, everywhere now suspects of wrongdoing "for years and years." Therefore he is clearly innocent.
Life is awkward like this at times, making it difficult for good people to decide what honorable course of action they should be taking, because, understandably, nobody wants to make waves unnecessarily. Nobody wants to unduly distress another person, especially if that person doesn't deserve it.
What's more, it's risky sticking to your guns in the face of stiff opposition, and if you're not used to taking that risk each and every day, if you're not accustomed to making a stand and not giving even one inch to those who oppose it, well, then, you're suddenly in uncharted territory. Leaderless.
It'd be great when that happens to be able to consult with someone who does this sort of thing everyday. Someone who has always known their own mind and, no matter what others may say or think, follows through undaunted each and every time.

Someone who is used to shouting "damn the torpedoes" whenever it comes to confronting wrong and doing right, even if it does make some folks initially uncomfortable and, worse, forever alienates a few of them.

Someone who's always been unwavering in their convictions their entire life. An "incredibly special person" who is "capable of bringing the whole community together" and guiding them in the right direction, and......
I wonder what Sarah would do?



  1. Can I email you directly. I believe we might be able to help one another. I have information regarding Sarah and Dave. I can not post my information.

  2. You can e-mail a tip addressed to my full name (no gaps or dashes) @gmail.com (Or click the CONTACT THE AUTHOR link on the right side panel.)

    And thanks for dropping by today--

  3. Hello again ER,
    I used to call both towns charming and enjoyed visiting. Now that I know what type of people live in those towns I will not visit nor will my friends. I will not do business with people that cover up murder? Sarah and Dave were both murdered by someone they knew. The people they called friends were sheep in wolves clothing. True friends tell the truth no matter what it cost them. “Secrets” become gossip somewhere along the way. When gossip reaches the wrong ears it leads to unanswered questions and that is when the law steps in. I have never known anyone who could keep a secret forever. Guilt on the other hand weighs you down. Have any of you considered the fact that Sarah and Dave will never rest in peace until the person or persons responsible for their deaths are punished. They will continue to haunt and stay very close to those chosen few they once called friends. Those responsible will be looking over their shoulders, that I am sure of. What they need is the State Police and FBI to look very close at both towns. By the way, who is running the drugs across state lines? That is a federal offense. Your “Secrets” will become known. I will be waiting to read the headlines about how two towns and their “clicks” fell from grace.